Book review of China Coup: The Great Leap to Freedom by Roger Garside and The Gate to China: A New History of the People’s Republic and Hong Kong by Michael Sheridan

Sheridan’s narrative has quite a few flaws. He spends the first half of the book bogged down in the weeds of Britain’s diplomatic negotiations with China over Hong Kong’s future, struggling to find ways to make the account colorful without adding much new perspective. The final parts of the book, which cover the past decade of upheavals in Hong Kong, read like a long, repeatedly updated news story. Overall, for an American reader, the book seems written too much for a British audience: It dwells on intra-British debates, and senior British officials are regularly identified not merely by their universities (Oxford, Cambridge) but by which colleges they attended there (Balliol, St. John’s), and sometimes by their boarding schools as well.

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